Sounders set to face San Jose for 4th time

Sep 21, 2012, 4:09 PM | Updated: 5:32 pm
The Earthquakes beat the Sounders in two of the teams' three meetings this season. Seattle hosts San Jose Saturday night. (AP)

The Seattle Sounders have precious few regular season MLS matches remaining. That’s why Saturday night’s home game against San Jose is a big one.

Seattle sits nine points behind the Western Conference-leading Earthquakes. A tie or loss would certainly dim the Sounders’ chances of earning its first Supporters’ Shield and the top seed for the MLS playoffs.

These clubs have met three times already this season. San Jose has prevailed in both league matches, while Seattle took a hotly contested U.S. Open Cup contest in San Francisco.

To beat the Earthquakes, Seattle’s defense must find a way to contain the league’s top goal-scoring machine, Chris Wondolowski. The 29-year-old forward has already found the back of the net 21 times.

Alan Gordon and Sounders nemesis Steven Lenhart are also dangerous offensive weapons for San Jose.

Sharing the soccer ball has been the Earthquakes’ key to success. Honduran-born Marvin Chavez and Ramiro Corrales lead the club in assists with nine and eight, respectively.

What concerns Seattle coach Sigi Schmid most about San Jose is its aggressive style.

“Often times in that aggressive play they try to get you caught up in that emotion,” Schmid said in our Coach’s Corner interview. “If you get caught up in the emotion of the game, you lose your focus and that gives them an advantage.”

Earlier this week the Earthquakes were involved in a physical altercation with the Portland Timbers. There was also a shoving match between San Jose and Seattle at the end of their U.S. Open Cup match.

The league’s top assist man, Mauro Rosales, might return to the Sounders’ right midfield position. The Argentine was held out of the last two matches with a quad injury. German midfielder Christian Tiffert appears over his ankle injury and should also see action for Seattle.

The “Rave Green” does lose some firepower with Eddie Johnson not available for this match. He has to sit out one game for yellow card accumulation. Schmid said he has several options including Sammy Ochoa and David Estrada, who’s been making his way back from a foot injury.

Fans should be aware this San Jose game was originally scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 23.

Matt Johnson hosts the pregame show at 7 p.m. with Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller handling play-by-play at 7:30 on 97.3 KIRO FM.

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